Oct 26 2012

Research into an ultramarathon training programme

I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of information about potential training programmes if you’re intending to do an ultramarathon for the first time.

I started off with RunnersWorld ultimate ultramarathon programme, which assumes that you can run a marathon when you start training. having done Abingdon Marathon (UK) only a week ago, i think I qualify for that. It’s a 16-week programme and it works on a basic principle that you do some speed and pace work on Tue, Wed, Thu. Mondays and Fridays are always rest days.¬† This works well for most as you need some time for family, friends, socialising, work and not running.¬† In addition, there’s a recommendation for long “time-on-your-feet” training days on Saturday and Sunday – often with back-to-back long distances to build up your running stamina on tired legs.

The RunnersWorld article also gives 8 peices of good advice, which I may come back to:

  • Stay flat for your first ultra
  • Get familiar with the terrain you’ll race on
  • Take breaks dont worry about walking
  • Pack well get used to packing kit for later in the race
  • Start slowly then get slower heard that before when training for my first marathon in 2006 ;)
  • Eat, drink, enjoy nuff said
  • Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm find it and stick to it
  • Prepare! Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – an adage from all walks of sporting life

This looks plan looks comprehensive and also gave me a good idea to what the non-weekend training should look like.

But it’s only a 16-week plan and it’s aimed at a 50-mile ultramarathon distance.

The next was eRunnningGuide’s 100-mile training programme for first timers – well I’m definitely a first timer. It’s a 24-week guide to the minimum a runner should try to achieve before attempting the 100 miler and shows some intersting deviations from the RunnersWorld plan.

Firstly it slightly breaks the programme up into one tough week, one less tough week. Alterternating this high/low/high/low mileage, I’m imagining would allow the mileage to rack up whilst giving adequate time to recover and avoid overtraining. Also later in the programme, the schedule changes emphasis to having back-to-back long runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a rest before on the Thursday. This means that the total 3-day distance you might run could peak at 65 miles.

There is a whole stackful of useful and interesting programmes out there, some appear to be shamelessly plagiarised from other sources. This 100km ultramarathon programme from NZ appears remarkably similar to the Runner’sWorld article above, I’m not commenting on which one came first, just that you have to spend a lot of time looking and separating the wheat from the chaff. (This blog probably falls into the latter category!)

A 50-mile training programme on Run 100 Miles which runs for 18 weeks shows an interesting¬† taper variation on any of the programmes I’ve seen so far and advocates making the longest distance week a full 5 weeks before the event and in the final week shows no running at all – complete rest. The article also refers to pace and tempo runs as many do.

A combination of the programmes above would therefore be ideal for the 62-mile London to Brighton race next year.

I’ve just seen the countdown drop to 30 weeks almost exactly. I will have a few more days’ rest after the marathon last Sunday and the painful shin injury I had to endure in the last 8 weeks of training. Endless icepacks and regular ibuprofen was the only thing that kept me going then.

I’m hoping this challenge will be different!



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  1. My 100km training programme » Wibles' Ultrablog | Wibles' Ultrablog

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